Swansea and Wales Network
The Cymru Wales Classics Network is based in Swansea, but has as its remit to support and promote Classics throughout Wales. To that end, we organise events in collaboration with Classics for All and the Classical Association to raise awareness of how Classics can be integrated in the Welsh educational curriculum.
In the past year, we have organised the following events:
We just organised a very successful teacher training weekend in Mid Wales, which was attended by teachers from throughout Wales (see https://cymruwalesclassicshub.weebly.com/blog/classics-teacher-training-weekend-participant-blog for a report by one of the participants). Because of the support we provided in that weekend, a hub consisting of several schools is now being started up in North Wales, and one primary school will start teaching Greek.
We also recently organised a one-day workshop for MFL PGCE students at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Thanks to the success of this day, about half of the students who attended are considering offering Classics clubs in the schools where they will go on their placements, and TSD has asked us back for a similar workshop for their Primary PGCE students.
Our second annual conference brought together current and prospective teachers of Classics from throughout Wales and beyond. We organised both talks on Latin and Greek pedagogy as well as practical sessions, e.g. on how to teach through object-handling and work on student retention. You can find a summary of the day here: https://storify.com/nimuevelien/teaching-classics-in-wales-annual-cymru-wales-clas. Jayne Treasure was given our award for ‘Outstanding contribution to the development of Classics in Wales’ for her work at Crickhowell and with Minimus.
Through the hub, we work together with around 30 schools – and that number is growing – in various ways.In three comprehensives, we are currently doing Latin teaching for Years 7-10, with the aim of both raising awareness of the subject and also encouraging the school to continue offering the subject in the long term.We are also working other schools on developing local hubs, such as the group in North Wales and also a private school in Cardiff. Other schools have asked for our input on developing Classics in their school, and so we are currently having meetings with them about how this might be set up. Eleven other schools are involved in the Swansea University Literacy through Classics project (https://www.literacythroughclassics.weebly.com), through which university students are offering Latin, Greek, and ancient history teaching. Others again attend schools’ days or inset days, e.g. at Swansea University or Cardiff University (the next inset day will take place at Trinity Saint David).
All these schools are brought together in our activities and events. Because awareness of Classics in Wales is relatively low in comparison with England – because of the lack of teachers, teacher training, Welsh-medium resources, and an overfull curriculum – our current overall aim is to bring schools together and raise awareness of Classics. What we have found from our events is that teachers often fear they don’t have the capability to offer Classics. Feedback from our events suggests that our training days help them become aware that Classics is not as exclusive and difficult as they had thought. By providing prospective teachers with a mentor (a current Classics teacher), they are also made to feel part of a wider network, which means they don’t feel they have to reinvent the wheel.
Apart from events and school collaboration, our hub also liaises with the Welsh government, to discuss the potential role/s of Classics in the new curriculum which will be put in place in 2018. We have had a series of successful meetings with the Minister of Education as well as the heads for Languages. We have also been invited to liaise with the head of Humanities, been given access to the teacher forum, and the Welsh translation unit is currently considering the translation of Minimus into Welsh. Research into the impact of Latin learning on English literacy is also being developed.
The Swansea and Wales Classics Network is supported by The Waterloo Foundation.